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'India-US bilateral ties will only get better'

January 22, 2013 10:46 IST

It's been a relationship that has evolved in the last couple of decades.

The Bill Clinton administration was in many ways the first to give it the necessary fillip. The subsequent US government, under President George W Bush, built on the same while the incumbent, President Barack Obama, has carried it forward.

The bilateral relationship between the US, the world's oldest democracy, and India, the world's largest democracy, is on an upswing with cooperation between the countries having expanded to new areas and the trade having gone up to over $100 billion in recent years.

With President Obama taking over for a second term the two countries look forward to renewed cooperation in diverse areas. The fact that Obama values India as a partner, having visited the country in his first term -- only the second American President, after Richard Nixon (1969) to do so, augurs well when it comes to taking the bilateral relations forward.

No wonder there's optimism all around.

"The relations will only get better," avers Peter Haas, the US Consul General in Mumbai. He proceeds to elaborate on his point.

"India and the United States enjoy a special relationship based on commerce, shared interest in security, education -- with a large number of students studying in both the countries, working towards counter-terrorism and in combating all kinds of global issues," explains, adding, "I am confident that the next four years will be exciting for both the countries."

While both the countries favouring to build on the existing relationship, certain American policies and practices, thanks largely to the economic situation the country finds itself in at present, is proving to be a deterrent.

For starters, the protectionist policies of the United States are much to the detriment of a developing country like India.

Similarly, the steep hike in the fee for the H1-B and L1 visas, for workers going to the US, has hit the Indian companies hard as also the fact that there has been an increase in the number of visa denials in recent years.

However, with a new term comes renewed hope.

"We are hopeful that things will change for the better in the coming months," says Aditya Agarwal, a businessman with interests in the United States. There are others who concur.

"The economic situation in the United States is getting better. It is a good sign for Indian business," says Manoj Mehta, a city-based entrepreneur.

If this hope manifests into opportunity it might just herald a fresh chapter in Indo-US bilateral relations.  

Bikash Mohapatra in Mumbai